Google have ended their six-year experiment with the Sidebar ads, instead opting for three above-the-fold text ads for queries on the desktop SERP and a further 3 ads at the bottom.
“We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries. We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”
A fourth ad will be shown for only the highly commercial queries such as “Car Insurance”, “Hotels in London” and “Cheapest Smartphones”, so the types of search where people express a deep intention to buy.
Google have been bringing their search results to be more aligned with the mobile experience over the past year or so. However, this doesn’t mean the death of the sidebar, as removing the ads has provided more real-estate for relevant Product Listing Ads (PLAs), as shown below.
So what does all this mean?
First on the list, is the benefit from moving from sidebar to top of the page ads. With side and bottom ads account for 14.6 percent of total clicks. The ads in the top positions get 14X higher click-through rate than the same ad on the same keyword on the right side. Which is only beneficial to all those included.
Secondly, all ads will now have call-out, sitelink and location extensions etc., which previously only benefitted top of the page ads.
Thirdly, and so far there has been no noticeable change in Cost-Per-Click… yet. That’s not to say that this won’t happen, however initial concerns over the change have, for the time being, disappeared.